Early exit poll results are in from the Mississippi and Alabama Republican primaries, and here are some of the highlights on what the electorate looks like and what voters were focused on as they left polling places. Tread with some caution, as the numbers are preliminary and can shift as the night goes on and more results are available.

Evangelicals: Evangelical Christians represent around eight in 10 voters in both Mississippi and Alabama, on track to be the highest levels in any contest so far, should the early numbers hold. In Mississippi, evangelicals are up significantly as a share of the electorate.

Ideology: More than four in 10 voters in Mississippi call themselves “very conservative” in early exit polls, up significantly from 2008. About seven in 10 overall are conservative, also higher than four years ago.

Party identification: As a share of the Alabama GOP primary electorate, self-identified Republicans are down sharply from 2008, according to early exit polls, with more now calling themselves independents. In Mississippi, about eight in 10 are Republicans, similar to 2008.

Issues and attributes: Voters in both Mississippi and Alabama single out the economy as the top issue and beating President Obama as the most important candidate attribute, continuing the trend in virtually all exit polls so far.

Tea party: More than six in 10 voters in both states are supporters of the tea party political movement, in preliminary data.

Economic worry: Eight in 10 voters in Alabama are “very worried” about the national economy. If that proportion holds, it will be the most to say so in exit polls where that question was asked, significantly higher than in Ohio last week:.

Religious beliefs: Roughly three-quarters of voters in both primaries say it’s important for candidate’s to share their religious beliefs, according to preliminary exit polls. Desire for a religious connection in Alabama and Mississippi is around the highest of any contest this cycle. More than 40 percent of voters in each state say religious beliefs matter “a great deal,” while only one in 10 say sharing beliefs doesn’t matter at all.

Abortion - Mississippi and Alabama GOP primary voters are strongly against legal abortion, according to preliminary exit polls. Seven in 10 Republican voters in Mississippi and Alabama say abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, while about a quarter take the opposite view.

These are preliminary results of a poll of Republican voters as they left primary voting places in Mississippi and Alabama on March 13, 2012. The exit poll interviewed 1,575 voters in Mississippi and 1,552 voters in Alabama The poll was conducted by Edison Media Research for the National Election Pool, The Washington Post and other media organizations. The margin of error for typical characteristics is plus or minus four percentage points.

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